Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ashokan Farewell

Carolyn and I are biking along the Ashokan Reservoir near Woodstock today. 

The reservoir was built between 1905 and 1914 to supply clear mountain water to New York City — water purity protected by forest preserve land. 

When the reservoir was filled, thousands of acres of farmland were submerged, including 12 small communities of 2,000 people and the locations where their 504 homes, 35 stores, 9 blacksmith shops, 10 churches, 10 schools, and 7 saw mills once stood. Cemeteries were relocated.

The land on either side of the rail trail is open to hunting (in season), but otherwise closed unless specially permitted in order to keep the water clean and pristine. Ashokan Reservoir is part of the largest unfiltered water system in the U.S.  The reservoir is over 10,000 acres — about 15 square miles. 

Ashokan Farewell is a tune written in 1982, and performed here by composer Jay Ungar and wife Molly Mason. It was used by Ken Burns as a title theme for his 1990 PBS television miniseries, The Civil War.

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